Simi Valley Council passes Water Rate hikes over public protest

By Debra Tash

Many of those speaking against the proposed water rate hike in Simi Valley complained how they have conserved water, let their lawns turn to toast, and still have to pay an increase on their utility bills because revenues are down.

Staff’s presentation outlined that 72% of the user’s bill is to cover the cost of imported water.  That cost has gone up 121%. Staff stated that: “People are conserving water in an astonishing rate.”  Yet that meant revenue has gone down by an astonishing rate.

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Water Costs in Simi Valley

Water revenues in Simi Valley

Water revenues in Simi Valley

The proposal on the table tonight would help District 8 offset that downturn.  Simi Valley would have one flat rate for all users.

What Simi Valley residents pay now is close to the lowest price for water in the County.  With tonight’s increase Moorpark and Camarillo will be paying less.  That’s because they have natural aquifers that can supplement their supplies.  Simi Valley relies on 100% imported water which is provided through Calleguas Municipal Water District.

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Simi Valley water is 100% imported

District 8, which serves Simi Valley, started their Prop 218 outreach on October 1st.  Prop 218 outlines public notice for rate increase.  As of this evening the majority of Simi Valley ratepayers remained mute on the proposed increase.

Not so in the Council Chambers.  The public that was present was adamantly opposed, at times conflating, with some basis,  the drought, their conservation efforts and now being punished by having to pay more.

One stated:  You’re“…punishing us for saving water.”

Another said: “Punching the small person with the flat fee.”

"Haven't watered my lawn since May."

“Haven’t watered my lawn since May.”

The flat fee, unlike tiered rates, will not penalize the big water consumers.  Earlier this year the state court overturned tiered rates in a case brought by a customer from San Juan Capistrano.  Rates must be tied to costs, not be set to punish end users.

Mayor Pro Tem Steven Sojka asked staff about what cost saving measures were being taken.  The District is trying to be energy efficient, running at off peak hours.  They haven’t changed staffing levels in over 20 years, even though District 8 has increased accounts. They have deferred capital projects and still managed to keep reserve funds for emergency repairs.

The District is redesigning the West Simi Valley reclaimed water project, where water is recycled.  Presently the project only serves the landfill.  If the District can lay more pipe it can offset a percentage of potable water used for landscaping with recycled water.

But the public in the Council chamber tonight didn’t buy into the reasoning laid out by staff for the drastic hike in fees.  The Service Charge will increase by 80% come 2020.  The public claimed the whole thing was a disincentive for saving water.  More comments: “We lost our lawns.” “This is a sickening, lazy way of dealing with the situation.”

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Council Member Glen T. Becerra pointed out that the City has been subsidizing the cost of water for some time. “We are asking you to make up that difference.”  He did request staff to investigate a discounted rate for seniors.  After a brief recess to consult with the City Attorney, the Council passed the rate increase by 3 to 2 (Mayor Huber and Council Member Keith Mashburn voting no). 

The Council will revisit a discount for low income seniors at a future date.

For Details here is the: Staff_Report

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Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of Citizensjournal.us, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis.

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One Response to Simi Valley Council passes Water Rate hikes over public protest

  1. William "Bill" Hicks November 17, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Unintended consequence of conserving water; or is it? We have so many layers of private and public entities involved that it is hard to put your finger on just one antagonist in this mix.

    Just like solar panel rebates from entities that provide electricity, we have a likely agreement with these alleged “private” entities, and City Council’s, County Supervisor’s, PUC, Sacramento and Washington D.C. All the alleged private entities have a hush-hush agreement that they can get the best of both worlds out of this fleecing of citizens. First they use our tax dollars to pay for the rebates. This can come from as far away as D.C. or as close as Sacramento. We use less of the utilities and they can just increase the charge.

    Reply

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